Suit: Oviedo home a 'boardinghouse'


Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By Sandra Pedicini

Published September 1, 2006


SANFORD -- Anette and Leon Nance help clients rent homes they couldn't otherwise afford by matching them up with roommates.

But the Nances' business plan has landed them and their company, Nance Property Investments Inc. of Orlando, in court.

The HeatherBrooke Estates Homeowners Association is suing them in state Circuit Court in Sanford, accusing the Nances of using a "boardinghouse-type arrangement" at a half-million-dollar, single-family home the couple owns in Oviedo. The association is seeking an injunction that would order the Nances to stop.

John Bill, an attorney for HeatherBrooke, would not comment, saying the case is pending.

The lawsuit, filed last week, quotes a section of deed restrictions for HeatherBrooke that states homes may be leased "only in their entirety," individual rooms can't be rented out, and no "transient tenants may be accommodated in a home."

In a letter written in July, Bill accused the Nances of "flagrantly violating" those rules by leasing individual rooms.

The Nances say they are doing nothing wrong. They are following city codes, Leon Nance said, and "we don't rent rooms. We rent houses."

The Nances' company started out focusing on college students, but Leon Nance said it has moved away from that because "most communities hate students."

Residents in the area have fought apartment complexes for students. Oviedo officials get about a dozen complaints a year of too many people living in a home -- and that usually involves students from the nearby University of Central Florida.

The Nances said many of their clients are now single parents.

"We've helped a lot of single mothers and fathers living in a house together with a better standard of living," Anette Nance said. "We are actually doing a lot of social good."

HeatherBrooke's attorney said in a letter it appeared as many as five people were living in the Oviedo home. Leon Nance said there were three, all who held jobs and did not attend school. Two have left, and a third plans to go soon because they don't feel welcome, Nance said.

Nance said he would like to rent the house again -- to a family or two or three single people.

When told about the covenants, Winter Park real-estate attorney Mike Marlowe said the homeowners association "might have a tough time" making its case against the Nances if tenants have access to the whole house.

Still, he said: "It's definitely not an open or shut thing. You get into the matter of interpretation."